“And the sons of Midyan were Eyphah, Epher, Chanok, Abiyda, and Elddaah. All these were the sons of Keturah.”
Moses gives us the final listing of the grandsons of Abraham and Keturah, in this case through the line of Midyan (Midian). These are the sons who will establish the tribes of the Midianites that will give the people of Israel so many problems in the generations to come, hence their likely inclusion. There are others in the Bible who share the same name, but as with people today who are named John, Samuel, and Paul, these names were not totally uncommon in the ancient near east. Apart from the parallel in 1 Chronicles 1:33, we know little else about these sons and grandchildren.
- Eyphah (Ephah): Literally, his name is translated as “darkness.” Perhaps more literally, the idea conveyed by the word is the presence of that gloom whose effect is to create a darkened state — see Job 10:22. However you explore the nuances of this name’s meaning, its connotations are ominous.
- Epher: There is some debate as to the term from which this word gets its name. Traditionally it has been understood to be a derivative of rRpOo (opher), which refers to a young fawn or gazelle. It may also be derived from rDpDo (aphar), which refers to the dust of the earth. In either case, both are fleeting. The deer runs swiftly from its hunter and the soil, when dry, is scattered by the wind, much like the wicked before God’s judgment.
- Chanok (Hanoch): Typically this name is rendered as “Enoch” in our Bibles (see Genesis 4:17 & 5:18 for example) and means “dedicated.” In the context of the son of Cain, a city was dedicated to him. In the case of the son of Jared, he was dedicated to God. As this Enoch is not part of the Covenant line, most likely the former is the intended meaning, not the latter.
- Abiyda (Abida): Literally: “My Father has Known Me.” Here we probably have the most positive of the group, though again history makes clear that the Father in question is an earthly father, not a heavenly one.
- Elddaah (Eldaah): Literally: “One who seeks God.” Yet does anyone ever really seek after God of their own accord? No, not even one (Romans 3:11-12). Only those that the Father draws to himself will come (John 6:44).